The Mississippi State men’s basketball team received two pieces of good news Monday. After bolting to a 3-0 start in Southeastern Conference play to lead the Western Division and winning 12 of its last 13 games, MSU is back in the Associated Press Top 25 at No. 23. Senior center Jarvis Varnado also was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week
STARKVILLE — Assists are just as good as goals to Frankie Jones. If pushed to give a preference, Jones isn’t going to deny he enjoys scoring goals a little bit more. But you wouldn’t know it by Jones’ performance so far this season. The Starkville Academy senior forward/midfielder notched four goals and four assists to help the Volunteers close the week with victories against Heritage Academy and Magnolia Heights. Jones’ efforts helped Starkville Academy improve to 7-0 on the season. For his accomplishments, Jones is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
Weekend anglers can get caught up in the all the sales hype when it comes to buying fishing line. Each manufacturer has many different types, colors and sizes of line. Most are designed for a specific purpose and a few, in my opinion, I consider hype. Fishing line was first made in the early 1900s out of a combination of linen, cotton and silk. In reading I found out that the line had to be un-spooled and laid out on a flat surface to dry or it would rot.
STARKVILLE — Amanda Butler didn’t think it would last. When Fox Sports Net analyst Carol Ross asked Butler at halftime what her University of Florida women’s basketball team would have to do in the second half to maintain its three-point lead against Mississippi State, Butler said the Lady Gators would have to step up their defense. Butler’s thinking was simple: MSU has been a second-half team and the odds were Alexis Rack and the rest of the Lady Bulldogs weren’t going to shoot as poorly in the second half
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen has stressed the importance of in-state recruiting ever since he took the job more than one year ago. Two recruiting experts have given Mullen and the Bulldogs a thumbs up in that regard. Yancy Porter of Scout.com and Barton Simmons of Rivals.com agree that MSU has the upper hand in the state when it comes to getting Mississippi talent.
Mississippi State’s football program hasn’t noticed any major recruiting backlash with the departures of defensive coordinator Carl Torbush and defensive line coach David Turner in the offseason. Torbush left MSU in December to join Turner Gill’s coaching staff as defensive coordinator at Kansas, while Turner went to the Kentucky to coach the defensive line for Joker Phillips. MSU head coach Dan Mullen announced Saturday that he’s filling the vacancies with former Middle Tennessee State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and Oklahoma defensive line coach Chris Wilson.
STARKVILLE — Manny Diaz and Chris Wilson know people don’t want to play against coach Dan Mullen’s offense. In time, Diaz and Wilson hope opponents say the same thing about facing Mississippi State’s defense. On Saturday, it became the job of Diaz and Wilson to remake the Bulldogs’ defense into one of the nation’s top units. Mullen officially introduced Diaz and Wilson as his assistant coaches at halftime of the Georgia-MSU men’s basketball game. The moves are pending approval from the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.
STARKVILLE — Phil Turner knew it was going to take more than a smile and a prayer to beat Georgia. So after erasing one double-digit deficit only to see the University of Georgia rebuild its cushion in the second half, the Mississippi State junior guard realized something more needed to be done. Turner was only happy to oblige. The energy and thievery Turner provided in a pressure defense in the final 5 minutes, 13 seconds proved to be contagious Saturday and helped MSU recover for an 82-79 victory against Georgia before a crowd of 7,682 at Humphrey Coliseum.
STARKVILLE — Chanel Mokango hopes to find the energy again today. On Thursday, the 6-foot-5 senior center had one of her best games of the season to help lift the Mississippi State women’s basketball team to an impressive victory at the University of Arkansas. At 2 p.m. today, Mokango will try to deliver a repeat performance when MSU (12-5, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) plays host to Florida (9-8, 2-2) at Humphrey Coliseum.
Defense is the engine that drives the New Hope High School boys basketball team. Former coach Robert Byrd helped perfect the formula of in-your-jersey pressure and relentless effort. Those ingredients ultimately paid off for Rashanti Harris, Dale Hughes and the rest of the Trojans in a Class 4A state title in 2008. The Trojans showcased those same skills last season. An undersized and inexperienced team used grit and resolve to rack up a 25-6 record before it lost to eventual Class 4A state champion Callaway in the third-place game of the North Half State tournament in Jackson.
The district race in one half of Class 5A, Region 2, District 1 got a little closer Friday night. Junior Kelsei Ewings scored a game-high 27 points to lead a three-pronged attack that helped the West Point High School girls basketball team beat New Hope 66-58 in Columbus. In the boys game, Johnathan Brandon had a game-high 21 points to lead New Hope to a 53-45 victory.
A talented class of senior baseball players at New Hope High School made its first mark on the college game Friday afternoon. East Mississippi Community College’s Tony Montgomery and Wallace State College’s Randy Putnam hope to be the beneficiaries. Montgomery signed infielder Philip Tice and pitcher/catcher Jake Upton to scholarships, while Putnam added pitcher/outfielder Jake Smith to the fold for the 2010-11 season.
STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School’s Alvaro Pichardo couldn’t wait to get back onto the soccer field after losing to Tupelo High last week. Starkville’s 3-1 loss to the Golden Wave in a Class 6A, Division 2 match left a bad taste in Pichardo’s mouth. On Friday night, Pichardo took out his frustration on Columbus High School’s boys soccer team. Pichardo scored the first and the last goal for the Yellow Jackets and had three total in a 7-1 victory.
ABERDEEN — The Aberdeen High School Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs and West Point Lady Green Wave and Okolona Chieftains posted first-round wins Thursday to advance to Saturday’s championship games of the Aberdeen Invitational Tournament. Aberdeen’s boys slipped past West Point 57-53 in the closest contest of the opening round, while the Lady Bulldogs beat West Lowndes 71-48 to assure the host teams a spot in the championship games. The West Point girls grabbed a spot opposite Aberdeen in the finals by beating Okolona 72-38, and Okolona’s boys will face the Bulldogs in the boys’ final by virtue of an 80-57 win against West Lowndes.
STARKVILLE — The best. The mere inclusion of definites in a statement about any player’s abilities speaks volumes. In his fourth year at Mississippi State, Jarvis Varnado has impacted college basketball games like nearly no other. On Thursday night, the senior center added a new weapon to his already impressive array of talents.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The Mississippi State women’s basketball team began the second half on a 23-10 run Thursday to pull away and beat Arkansas 78-60 at Bud Walton Arena. Mississippi State (12-5, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) won for just the third time at Bud Walton Arena, but for the second time in three years. It is the fourth time in school history for the Lady Bulldogs to start 3-1 in SEC play.
STARKVILLE -- It’s time for former Starkville High School sprinter Tavaris Tate to make his track debut at Mississippi State. When the Bulldogs begin the indoor season at the Kentucky Invitational this weekend, the collegiate wait will be over for Tate. Tate expects to participate in the 400 meters when he takes the track Saturday in Lexington, Ky.
The positive effect the University of Tennessee’s upset of top-ranked Kansas on Sunday had on the Southeastern Conference was obvious. As University of Kentucky coach John Calipari observed the events of the first SEC weekend unfold, he has no doubt the league is on the way back. Calipari spent his entire opening statement Monday on the SEC teleconference praising the Volunteers for their 76-68 victory against Kansas and spoke about the impact it has had in the conference.
A point guard can be a valuable piece to the puzzle for any basketball team. But when the starter isn’t there or not performing well, it can be disruptive on both ends of the court.
STARKVILLE — One time was enough for Sharon Fanning-Otis. The veteran Mississippi State women’s basketball coach has been a part of enough blowouts to know not to make too much of one game. But Fanning-Otis couldn’t help but be curious, so she decided to watch a replay of the Lady Bulldogs’ 75-48 loss to No. 4 Tennessee.
1. McCowan answers call after Bibby forced to leave COLLEGE SPORTS
2. MSU uses more zone to slow down South Carolina COLLEGE SPORTS
3. No. 7 MSU's toughness wins out vs. No. 15 South Carolina COLLEGE SPORTS